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It’s a fight for Assamese Unicode

International Organization for Standardization

STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, June 22: Experts at a Unicode working group meeting in London on Friday recommended the title of the chart containing Assamese and Bengali characters in the Unicode Consortium as “Bengali-Assamese” instead of only “Bengali”.

The working group, which concluded its five-day-long meeting in London on Friday, was part of a joint technical committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The group can take the final call on giving a separate code chart to a language in Unicode, which is used in most computers.

Friday’s meeting discussed in details about the issue of allotting separate slot to Assamese script in the UN-based Unicode Consortium. The working group also recommended to include “Assamese Characters Name” in the name list and to allot code for new and additional characters of Assamese which were missing earlier from the code chart

The working group referred back the matter to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) which has been dealing the issue on behalf of the Central Government.
“If the proposal is acceptable, BIS has to submit revised proposal to the Unicode working group. Now it is up to the BIS and Assam government whether to accept the proposal or not,” said Shikhar Sarma, the only Indian expert in the London meeting.

The Assam government BIS had earlier agreed that Assamese should be given a separate slot in the Unicode Consortium. The recommendation was sent to the ISO.

For the first time the issue had reached the international forum and official discussions held. Experts from Assam, Bureau of Indian Standards, Assam government and Axom Xahitya Xabha representatives also participated in the meeting.

Dr Satyakam Phukan, who has been fighting for the cause, said he cannot support the decision of the Unicode Consortium. He said there must be a separate and independent chart for the Assamese language.